The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s little prince is set to attend his first official royal engagement in a few short hours, and in the most engaging company. Having spent a day of rest with his parents – to recover from their long 30-hour flight – in an undisclosed location, Prince George will hopefully be in tip top shape to meet ten new little playmates, all born within weeks of his birthday, at a very special Plunket parent support meeting at Government House.
The chosen families represent the variety of parents enjoying the services of parent support organisation Plunket. They include stay-at-home mums, single mums, gay couples, photographers, marketing experts, tax accountants, web designers, and even a rocket scientist.
“The parents are a spread of all the communities in New Zealand, including Maoris, Samoans, people of Chinese descent and gay couples. This is a very multi-cultural country, and we wanted The Duke and Duchess to meet people from all backgrounds,” said Tristine Clark, New Zealand president of Plunket.
The first-time parents and babies chosen to mingle with the royal family are looking forward to exchanging anecdotes and tips on raising a first child. 29-year-old mum Kate Bainbridge‘s daughter Sophie is eleven days older than the little Prince:
“Even though we come from a very different background we have got a lot in common with The Duke and Duchess because we’ve been through the sleepless nights, and we can talk to them about our experiences. We are all first-time parents, like them, so it should be quite easy to chat to them.”
Four baby boys and six baby girls are casually waiting to meet their royal counterpart who is said to be teething – he has a few bottom teeth – and is an eager crawler.
Chosen from a short list of families, the first ten who answered their phone were selected for the exclusive play session. There was no wait list, according to Plunket media manager Helen Clifton:
“We did think long and hard about this, but as the families require police vetting, socialising with the other parents, learning protocols and all the other logistics and details required around preparing for the event, we deemed it not fair to take someone through that process and then not get to attend at the end of the day if everyone else was able.”
Founded in 1907 by paediatrician Sir Frederic Truby King as a haven to assist mums and babes suffering malnutrition and disease, the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society soon caught the attention of the well-connected wife of the Governor-General at the time. In 1908, Victoria Plunket became the Society’s first patron, and gave it its name.
Today, Plunket – as it is known throughout the country – serves nearly 90% of New Zealand’s newborns, providing free childcare, advice, home visits and even car seat rentals.
Nearly one hundred years after his ancestor, King George V, honoured Plunket with a “Royal Society” designation, Prince George will bring the royal link full circle as the teething King-in-the-making exchanges drooling stories with ten of his future ‘people’.
Although it is as yet too soon to determine H.R.H. Prince George’s diplomatic skills on the playground, all eyes will be sure to watch this afternoon, New Zealand time, as the royal parents take part in their first of 51 royal engagements included in this three-week tour of New Zealand and Australia.
photo credits: Government House, New Zealand and Royal New Zealand Plunket Society